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How to Protect Your Camp From Bears


You hear that Ron?? BEARS! Now you’re putting the whole station in danger!

We posted this photo to Instagram a few months ago and seemed to get a lot of concerned comments from our followers. So we wanted to share a few tips on how to keep your food and yourselves safe from bears while camping.

First of all, know when bears are and aren’t a threat. When planning your camping trip, check the website associated with your destination and/or call for safety information. With bear populations on the rise and more people camping, food safety needs to be high on your priority list.

6 things to remember when you’re camping around bears:

  1. Always keep a clean camp
  2. Store food, including stock, pet food, and garbage in bear-proof containers (coolers and plastic boxes are not bear-proof)
  3. Use the counterbalance method to hang food if bear-proof containers are not available
  4. Keep sleeping areas free of food and odors
  5. Do not sleep in clothing worn while cooking
  6. Do not sleep in clothing worn while handling fish or game

The Counterbalance Food Storage Method (re: National Park Service):

Hanging food illustration 1 Find a tree with an appropriate live, downsloping branch, even if you must select a different campsite. Approximately 10 feet away from the trunk, the branch should still be approximately 20 feet off the ground. Divide food into two balanced bags. Store soap, sunscreen, deodorant, toothpaste and garbage in the same way as food, since bears are attracted to anything with an odor.


Hanging food illustration 2Hanging food illustration 3

Use enough rope to go over the branch and back to the ground. Toss the rope over the branch where the branch is about 20 feet off the ground and at least 10 feet away from the trunk (to where the branch is strong enough to support the weight of the food but not the weight of a bear cub).


Hanging food illustration 4.

Tie one end of the rope to the first sack and pull it up to the branch. Tie the second sack as high as you can on the rope; put the excess rope in the sack, leaving a loop out so you can retrieve it.



Hanging food illustration 5.

Toss or push the lower sack until both sacks are at equal height at least 12 feet off the ground. This minimizes the chance of a bear reaching down for the bags from above, reaching up to them from the ground, or reaching over to them from the trunk.



Hanging food illustration 6

To retrieve the sacks, hook a long stick through the loop of excess rope. Pull slowly to avoid tangles.




By making loud noises and throwing objects you can often scare bears away before they get to your food. Be bold, but keep a safe distance and use good judgment. Never attempt to retrieve food from a bear. Never approach a bear or get near a cub.

Bears are active both day and night. At night and any time you are away from camp, remove all food from your pack and store it properly. Leave your pack on the ground with flaps and pockets open.

If a bear does get your food, you are responsible for cleaning up and packing out all debris, and for reporting it to the nearest ranger.

Be safe, have fun, and DON’T FEED THE BEARS!

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CJ is StokeShare's Marketing Director. He's either working, snowboarding, backcountry hiking, or climbing (terribly).

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